What makes millennials so good with social media?
Are they using special strategies to win over their fans and followers?
Andrew Bachelor for instance, has over 14 million Followers on Vine and about 717,000 subscribers on his official YouTube channel. That’s more than what most brands could hope to amass during a single campaign. No wonder corporate giants such as Pepsi, Samsung, and L’Oreal are turning to millennials. Although not exactly Hollywood celebrities, they have built their own brand empires thanks to their social media expertise.
See what makes these young minds tick. Here are four key concepts to learn from this generation’s next social media masters.
#1 Learn To Translate Digital Fame To Something of Value
Don’t just focus on your number of followers or shares – learn how it can be converted to something of actual value for the business (either in terms of sales or leads).
Artist Shaun McBride was able to create his own income from the Snapchat messaging platform. Just last year, he took over Disney’s Snapchat account for 24 hours to cover a “Frozen” event. From being pressured to join the popular app in 2013, he is now earning about $1,500 a day to up to $100,000 a week from custom Snaps for various sponsors.
So how does he do it? In general, Shaun doesn’t really want to think about it in terms of sales figures – he just wants to engage with his young audiences by providing fun, entertaining snaps of his adventures. Although he’s currently working with brands to promote their products and services, his method doesn’t feel promotional at all.
A big mistake many brands make when promoting themselves on social media is that they try too hard. Shaun suggests to first observe what audiences pay attention to, and then tailor your content based on those observations. When he was still new to Snapchat, he noticed that his posts were a bit bland. Using his skills as an artist – plus his love of witty captions – he was able to level up those Snaps and earn himself a following. With patience and sincerity, he slowly got featured on popular sites (such as Forbes.com and USA TODAY), which led to more followers.
Shaun’s success can also be attributed to how he engages his audiences. Instead of simply posting his adventures, he enjoys sharing these experiences with his followers by letting them send him snaps, which he customizes. On his social media pages like Twitter, you can see him acknowledging and addressing other people in a friendly, personal tone.
His approachable and genuine personality shone through his works, making him one of the most profitable faces on social media today. In an interview with Re/code, Shaun shared that there was no ‘big break’ or ‘going viral’. He just did what he thought was best, got featured by big names in the industry, and it took off from there.
He’s also careful about choosing which brands to work for. His motto, which is to simply ‘go on adventures’ is subliminally reflected on his website, blog, and projects he’s done.
- Watch out for trending or fresh social media apps. Facebook and Twitter are already saturated; so think outside the box and use niche platforms that cater specifically to your target market. Snapchat for example, has an audience demographic of 15 to 25 year olds.
- Build content around your service or product – but do NOT sound promotional!
Use your loyal fans or followers to promote contests, promotions, or spread the word about new offers.
- Incorporate offline strategies (such as conventions, product launches, etc.) to reinforce yourself as a strong brand.
Be absolutely clear about what you want to get out of social media, because gaining thousands of followers is just the beginning.
#2 If It Doesn’t Work Out On One Platform, Try Another
If you see your business is not receiving the expected results, see which new social media platforms you could jump onto to keep your brand relevant and fresh.
This is what Canadian singer Shawn Mendes has proven to be true. Even with more than a million subscribers on his YouTube account, his fame didn’t really take off until he joined Vine. Mendes noticed that the platform didn’t contain short music videos at that time. He wanted to take advantage of the gap he found, and the rest they say, is history.
Thanks to his version of ‘As Long as You Love Me’ by Justin Bieber, his account gained about 10,000 followers overnight. After his initial success, he kept posting videos on both his Vine and YouTube profiles. He’s more frequent on Vine though, with videos just several days apart. It’s no surprise as this account contains the most audiences (over 4.3 million followers).
Shawn also shared in an interview with Telegraph UK that he enjoyed working ‘as a team’ with his many fans. He’d ask them for songs they’d like him to sing, and he’d gladly comply. This connection between celebrities and fans was unheard of in previous years before social media. Now, it can be used to spread content and in return, gain brand loyalty.
Sony Electronics encountered a similar flop when they tried to market their PSP in 2006 through a fake blog. They have learned from that mistake and have since tried other social media platforms. Sony is now one of the winning brands on Pinterest with 45,000 followers.
- Decide with your digital marketer if there’s a need to switch focus from one social media site to another.
- Brainstorm with your team if there are content opportunities on your target platform.
Sometimes, you just need to take a leap of faith. Mendes and Sony Electronics wouldn’t be as successful today had they not tried their luck somewhere else.
#3 Cater To Your Main Market – But Diversify For Most Audiences
Showcase your expertise – but try other things, too. This keeps your brand fun, fresh, and exciting for the changing consumers.
Although still very young, Jack & Jack already have their own recipe for success. Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky‘s Vine account is a hotpot of music covers, skits with wigs, nerd alter egos, and more. This variety keeps all kinds of audiences entertained – from young teen girls to busy moms.
In an article, the boys understand how fragile online fame is. “We try to cover most people’s interests, that way we think we can get as large of a fan base as possible,” explained Johnson. Their YouTube account reflects this concept in the type of videos they post. Despite their focus on music, they are still able to upload short skits, direct announcements, and a bit of Q&A for their fans.
Marks & Spencer did this bold move when they decided to diversify into food and home products. Although the brand seems to be crossing a thin line when it comes to their fashion department, their food products are getting plenty of attention.
- Always be aware of what you post on social media. Use tools like CoSchedule to plan your content ahead of time.
- Don’t be afraid to try something new! If you want to explore video or audio marketing, talk to an expert about your plans.
Branch out – but remain significant to your target consumers.
#4 Realize That YOU Are Your Brand
Becoming your brand helps you stay consistent, whether on- or offline. Authenticity – along with a great, quality product – is what influences most millennial buying decisions.
YouTube beauty guru Michelle Phan knows this all too well. In an interview with Re/code, the 28-year-old entrepreneur says the reason why viewers preferred her informal videos was because they felt more authentic compared to big productions. Now with her own music label (Cutting Edge Music), book (Make Up: Your Life Guide to Beauty, Style, and Success), and business start-up (Ipsy), Phan still stays true to her roots by producing her own video tutorials – something that she’s been doing since 2006.
She keeps things consistent with her brand by carefully choosing what to repost from other users. Her Twitter account for example, has a mixture of beauty, travel, fashion, and inspirational Tweets. Aside from the occasional mentions about her current mood or task, she strays from anything that could otherwise give a wrong impression.
Like most social media savvy millennials, Phan also loves directly engaging with fans. Although her replies or comments are short, she makes them feel more personalized through emojis.
Phan’s social media profiles also showcase the same theme, depending on how she wants to be seen by the online community. Right now, her accounts feature a dreamy, galaxy-like concept that embodies her go-getter attitude towards life. She keeps the theme constant with positive, motivational posts as well.
- Review your business goals and mission with team members.
- Make sure they understand that each of them is a brand ambassador.
- Look for relevant events or institutions that your company can support in the long-term.
- Let consumers take a sneak peek of what happens inside your company through informal pictures or videos. This should give them a glimpse of your company culture.
When you believe that YOU are your brand, you will be more conscious of your actions, especially on social media. This should reflect on the things you post.
Aside from a natural knack at social media, millennials like Michelle Phan, Cameron Dallas, and Shawn Mendes all share ONE key trait: they’re stubborn. When Phan couldn’t land a job at a beauty counter because she had ‘no sales experience’, she pursued her dream online. Instead of seeing this quality as a liability, brands should start using it to experiment with better strategies.
Even small businesses can compete in the social media game, as long as they think fearlessly. Millennials may be viewed as impatient, overly emotional, and narcissistic, but they sure know how to follow their passion – and succeed in the process.
This 2016, update your digital marketing strategies and think like a millennial.